By Allen Palmeri
KANSAS CITY—March 3 was a historic day in the life of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) as groundbreaking for a new 1,000-seat chapel complex took place amid hope that touched the greater MBTS community.
“We believe the Lord is building His house here at Midwestern,” said R. Philip Roberts, MBTS president. “First of all, from a spiritual perspective and point of view, but also to give us the tools that we need to do the best job we can in preparing men and women to make disciples for Jesus Christ in support of His church all over the world.”
The multi-faceted, innovative effort will seek to build the nearly 39,000 square foot facility with a volunteer work force of more than 1,500. Builders for Christ, a Birmingham, Ala.-based network, will work with J.E. Dunn Construction Co., a Kansas City contractor established in 1924, in an attempt to complete the chapel by December. The building is meant to be the focal point on campus, captivating drivers as soon as they turn in on the main entrance.
“We’re looking forward to a very successful project,” said Bill Dunn, Sr., adding that he sees it as an opportunity to play a role in helping turn our society back to God.
Lawrence Corley, director of Builders for Christ, reported that the number of volunteers has risen to 1,312. Working between Memorial Day and Labor Day, they ultimately will accumulate more than 60,000 work hours as they labor to connect three buildings into one central unit. The finished space will include a chapel auditorium, welcome center, additional classroom space, and corridors linking the current administration and classroom buildings.
The existing chapel will be turned into new library space, greatly expanding and consolidating the seminary’s capacity in that area.
Jerry Johnson, academic vice president for the seminary, captured the enthusiasm of the seminary family in the closing prayer of the indoor ceremony, which came right before the actual groundbreaking.
“As people begin to see this building go up, and they see this cross and this steeple around 100 feet high, that glory will go to You—that Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, His resurrection, will be emphasized from the pulpit, in the classroom, and even in the architecture,” Johnson prayed. “As people see this, they will think of You, and Your greatness, and Your love.”